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DNA Sculpture is “Vile and Offensive” – supreme idiocy

August 27, 2009

NOTE: If you are 1 ) easily offended, 2 ) mentally challenged, 3 ) humor challenged, 4 ) challenged, 5 ) boring, 6 ) righteous, 7 ) myopic, 8 ) gullible, 9 ) boring, or 10 ) an anal-retentive omniscient non-existent being, then please read THIS either now or at minimum after you’ve read the following.

DNA Sculpture exhibit at UC Berkeley playground turning heads, sparking complaints

PTA president asks school’s parents to file complaints with the county

By Richard Vernon, P.O.E.
State of Protest
July 27, 2009

EAST BERKELEY – Think of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man . . . zoomed in to an ungodly scale.
The large, plastic and metallic sculpture parked outside UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, is stoking the angry fires of parents of children who attend nearby Claremont Park Elementary School.

“My daughter suggested that it was funny,” said John Copeland, whose 7-year-old daughter attends summer camp there. “She shouldn’t be talking to me about this. Now I’m forced to explain genetics to her, and why the Bible doesn’t say anything about it.”

The genetically correct structure is part of an ongoing exhibit titled “DNA Sculpture,” created by acclaimed artist Ashe Kutchya, which represents “genetic material from an enzyme,” according to Lawrence Hall of Science’s website.

It depicts a DNA double helix — two congruent helices with the same axis, differing by a translation along the axis. The structure is larger than life, and elongated. Its genetic analogy to human life is subtle.

“It’s a piercing piece, quite abstract,” said Francis Pegro, the groundskeeper in charge of maintaining the sculpture as well as other displays in the playground. “It’s honest and natural.”

Pegro said he’s received some complaints, but also praise.

Although DNA Sculpture has been on display in various public parks and playgrounds, Jenny Garrotte, Claremont Park PTA president, said she found it distasteful and verging on obscene, and e-mailed parents Wednesday morning, asking them to file complaints with Pegro and with Alameda County Code Enforcement.

“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion regarding what art is,” said Garrotte. “If this piece weren’t visible to passersby and available for children to play on, I would not have a problem with it.”

Still, Terence Lythma, a teacher in the school’s summer program, said he has not heard any of the children talking about the piece.

“It’s the parents who have been talking about it,” he said. “The children don’t really make an issue of it.”

Kutchya, the creator of DNA Sculpture, could not be reached for comment despite attempts by phone. But it’s not the first time his sculptures have drawn public scrutiny. In 1996, the Oakland City Council made him modify the depiction of DNA so that it matched a dog’s DNA structure rather than a human’s until public pressure and national attention reversed the city officials’ position. He later reverted the structure to depict human DNA.

In 2006, The Ovum, a sculpture of a human unfertilized egg by Sonoma-area artist Nabry Gussom and installed at the Petaluma Community Center, generated complaints over its super-realistic undulations and dampness.

“It’s awful that people react to art in this manner,” said Amy Boswin, director of the Novato Ignacio Art Gallery near Petaluma. “If they opened a biology textbook, they’d see a lot more risqué stuff than that.”

Meanwhile, Copeland said he hopes the owner of the plaza removes the sculpture before school starts next month.

“There are 1000 kids in the school that are going to be exposed to it,” he said. “It’s vile and offensive, and kids have no business seeing what God thought fit to hide from our eyes.”

No word yet from local government officials, who apparently have their hands full with other depictions of human reality in art.3

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